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Positionality and Knowledge Construction

The philosopher Linda Alcoff introduced the concept of positionality in 1988. She argued for a positional definition of woman, one that sees important aspects of women's identity as markers of relational positions rather than essential qualities. These identities exist in a shifting context that is a network of elements involving other people, economic conditions, and cultural and political institutions and ideologies.

The idea that certain important aspects of our identity—for example, gender, race, social class, age, and national origin—are markers of relational positions rather than essential qualities opened up new ways of seeing the lived experience of women and men in the world. Feminists began to call for descriptions that are not based on categories but on positionality, on relations. This meant that what is perceived ...

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